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Mobile libraries returning to Omaha classrooms

OMAHA, Nebraska – The thrill of selecting a new book. The odor. The sound made when turning a page.

DIBS for Kids restores to our pupils what virtual learning has taken away.

“Everything was on a computer or iPad. I believe what we’re observing is a resurgence of interest in physical books, and that this is generating enthusiasm. Something they can physically hold. Something they can carry with them. They are unlocking [them]. They are looking at the images, according to Marie Kovar, director of school support for DIBS for Kids.

This Omaha-based organization promotes literacy. According to the Nebraska Department of Education, English proficiency in Omaha Public Schools decreased by five percentage points during the influenza pandemic.

“Third-grade literacy is a common aim in many school systems, as it is a predictor of future academic achievement,” said Angie Miller, executive director of DIBS for Kids.

Studies indicate that a third grader’s reading skills can predict their likelihood of graduating high school. Kovar explained how the method works: each classroom has six bins containing approximately two hundred books.

Kovar stated, “We offer a large selection for students who may need an easier book to read, as well as up to chapter books and more difficult picture books.”

Every night, students scan a QR code in the classroom and take home a book.

This strategy earned the organization a prize from the Library of Congress. It is a global award that rewards organizations for “excellent literacy and reading promotion efforts.” They are the first in Nebraska to obtain a Library of Congress honor.

200 teachers receive mobile libraries from DIBS for Kids, meaning they do not have to spend their own money to stock classroom libraries. The organization can reach 5,000 pupils in eight different school districts.

“We discovered that tangible books are our area of expertise and what our pupils require most. Therefore, we have stressed physical dispersion,” Miller explained.

Most of the students are from Omaha Public School, but more will join as DIBS for Kids seeks to provide a library to every classroom in other schools.

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